nivo total station teodolit hiperaktivite The Non-Consumer Advocate Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Page 4

One thing I like about going to Goodwill is that you just never know what or who you’re going to run into.

For example, you might come across our Commander in Chief catching a wave:

Obama

Or Señor y Señora Maraca. ¡Hola! (Cómo se dice “googly eyes” en Español?)

Senor y Senora

But sometimes you simply come across the “World’s Greatest Mom.”

World's greatest mom

 

Of course, there are exceptions to the suburban PTA meeting types. For example, a certain Mr. Trapper Jim:

Trapper Jim

Need more detail? Here ya’ go!

Trapper Jim detail

Of course, not everyone at Goodwill fits the creepy survivalist mold. Mr Dumpty is anything but frightening. Well, except for his tendency towards self-harm.

Humpty Dumpty

There are so many famous people, you might want to bring your autograph book! Did you know Rosie O’Donnell was a “Friend of Barbie?” Must be some kind of euphemism I’ve never heard of.

Rosie O'Donnell

At this point you may be worried that all bearded men are to be feared, but such is not the case. Just check out this friendly fellow.

Hello, sir. Would you happen to have any Grey Poupon a match I could borrow?

Bubba

And you all know that wherever Barack Obama is, Bill Clinton is sure to follow.

Bill Clinton

Wow, you just met up with a lot of people at Goodwill. You’ll definitely need a nap about now. Here’s a pretty image to send  you off to dreamland.

Just try not to think about the brown stuff splattered all over the front of the photo.

Trapper Jim detail

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The “Ewww” Factor

by Katy on May 22, 2014 · 62 comments


An interesting post came up the other day over at The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook Group about buying used sheets.

Here’s what Susan wrote:

“I just purchased (at a great price) 3 sets of sheets at a thrift store which will become the sheets we take to our rented beach house each year. My husband will balk at used sheets. You guys buy used linens, right? I’m not crazy, correct? They are all in great shape. Just not our normal style, but it’s week a year. Who cares? Also my thriftiness is how we afford the beach house. Sorry. Venting. Used sheets are a yes, yes??”

The member response (84 of them so far) was 100% in favor of used sheets being just dandy, with many pointing out that hotels and hospitals use their sheets over and over again.

I’m personally totally fine with used sheets, with my very favorite fitted sheet being a Ralph Lauren burgundy/brown cotton sheet I picked up at a Seattle Goodwill a few years ago. I pretty much wash it and then put it right back onto the bed the same day. It’s so soft and smooth!

But it got me thinking about how everyone has a completely different line in the sand for what’s too gross to be buying (or garbage picking) used for their home. For example, I’m totally fine with picking up dropped elastic hair bands for my personal use. I simply wash and completely dry them first. And since my older son has lately been sporting a ponytail, I actually picked up a few extra while walking around the soccer track last night. I do buy new underwear and bras, but that’s pretty much it. And if I were to find a used bra in my, ahem . . . voluptuous size I’d actually have no problem buying it. I buy used shoes, (although only ones that look brand new) as do my teenage sons.

But everyone’s used-stuff comfort level is different.

What do you consider too disgusting to be buying used? And has your experience with non-consumerism challenged your previous level of used-stuff comfort?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Katy-Wolk-Stanley-300x272

I started writing the blog on May 20th, 2008 with a post titled Welcome to The Non-Consumer Advocate. Explaining that:

“Anyone knows how to live well in good times – lots of delicious dinners out, sumptuous presents for all, great clothes and furnishings. The art is to know how to live well whether your income is up or down. And live well we do. A nice big house in Portland, Oregon, classic comfy antique furniture, cool kids, really – the ‘American Dream.’ “

Over the past five years my writing has hopefully gotten a lot better. (Malcolm Galdwell writes that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in your field, and I feel like I’ve spent close to that on blogging!)

I’ve written 1845 blog posts, received 44,272 reader comments, given countless interviews and turned down a bijillion scammy advertising and sponsored post offers.

A few of my favorite posts, in no particular order (and likely leaving out the obvious) have been:

But my favorite part of blogging has been the interaction with you guys, the readers. I’ve found amazing inspiration and ingenious ideas from all of you, and have surprised myself with what a true community The Non-Consumer Advocate has become. (The Facebook group for the blog has over 5,000 extremely active members!)

I’ve made wonderful friends through the blog and although my life would be simpler and easier without the almost daily writing task, I don’t see myself stepping down anytime soon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being part of my world, dear readers! You make me laugh, give me ideas and inspiration and keep me in check.

Stay frugal, my friends.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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My younger son turned sixteen today, but since his birthday fell on a Monday, we celebrated yesterday. A few years ago, I started a new family tradition where the four of us spend the day together going from one activity to another. I call it a “Birthday Day of Adventures,” and it involves planning out a day where we participate in the activities that the birthday person likes to do, and eating the food they like to eat. I have the activities be out of our normal routine, as well as a complete surprise and is thus very exciting.

I also try to have the day not break the bank. Activities we’ve done over the past few years include:

  • Roller skating, (I had a coupon.)
  • Laser tag, (I brought the kids’ report cards, as each “A” earns a free session.)
  • Underground day-glo pirate theme mini-golf, (I had a coupon.)
  • Japanese super huge grocery store.
  • Conveyer belt sushi.
  • Movies, (I had coupons for a free movie.)

My initial plan for yesterday was to go to the Oregon coast for the day, but a certain someone forgot it was supposed to be a surprise and was talking freely about it in front of the kids. So I completely switched everything up on Saturday night.

Here’s what we did for celebrate my son’s 16th birthday:

My son loves falafel, so I searched through Yelp to find the city’s best falafel, which turned out to be the Wolf and Bear’s food cart not too far from the house. Yes, the falafel were $9.25 apiece, but they were truly tasty. This was a bit of a splurge.

Here’s my son patiently waiting for his lunch.

Waiting for food

We then drove over to a Regal Cinema to watch the new Spiderman movie. Why Regal? Because the Oregon Nurses Association sent me two free tickets for Nurses’ Week. And since we chose a 12:35 P.M. matinee, the cost for the four of us was only $16. We got there a bit too early, but the guys kept themselves entertained on their phones.

Waiting for Spiderman

Our next stop was to the Ground Kontrol “classic arcade” in Old Town, which ate up $25 of our quarters in short order. (I played two games of Pac-Man, although I did find three quarters on the ground, so I came out ahead. ;-) My 18-year-old son mostly played pinball, while my younger son spent his time on the actual video games:

Pac-Man!

My two sons are as different from one another as is humanly possible.

Star Trek pinball

The last two stops were sadly undocumented, but included:

At stop at Starbucks, where my husband used his free birthday drink to buy an enormous caramel Frappucino, which they nicely split into two cups.

A take-out dinner from KFC, which included a bucket of chicken, two sides, biscuits and a cake for $22.99! My son has eaten KFC once (once!) in his life during a car trip, and has been talking about it ever since. I knew that this indulgence would be an enormous hit, and it was. (Poor guy. It’s hard to have a mom who doesn’t buy fast food.)

Although my husband did buy a our son a Liverpool soccer jersey, the main birthday gift was the Day of Adventures. This kid doesn’t need anything, and the memory of any stuff would soon fade away. (Quick, name what you received for Christmas in 2013!)

Research shows that experiences make us happier than stuff, and by including others in the fun of our birthdays, we spread the happiness to all of us.

It’s just so much fun!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 18 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 18, 2014 · 23 comments


hand me up nikes

  1. I needed a pair of new athletic shoes, so I usurped a pair of my son’s many new looking pairs of Nikes. I will reimburse him the $20 he paid for them at Goodwill and spare myself the unpleasant task of thrifting for sneakers. 
  2. My sons had a soccer game yesterday, and it was sunny outside. I grabbed my sun hat from the coat closet, where it had been languishing since last fall only to find that it had been squashed into a weird shape. Fixable, yes, but not in an instant. Instead I grabbed a Transformers movie one-size-fits-all baseball hat a friend sent to my younger son and wore it to shade my delicate flower face. (My friend’s husband had worked as an editor on the Transformer movies.) I think I can truly embrace this hand-me-up style of clothing myself.
  3. My husband and younger son went to last night’s Portland Timbers soccer game, which left my older son and I on our own. No problem, as I had a Redbox code for a free movie and coupons for ice cream. (Grocery store circular, plus manufacturer’s coupon brought the price of Dreyer’s half-gallons down to $2 apiece.) We rented This is The End, which was absolutely hilarious, (although not for the young ‘uns.) And since the coupon required me to buy two ice creams, I stashed the second one in the basement freezer for next week’s dessert night.
  4. This Tuesday is election day, and we Oregonians only vote by mail. But instead of spending the 49¢ apiece for first class stamps, I’ll walk our ballots over to the library. Every little bit counts baby, every little bit counts.
  5. I have a practice of buying a single $80-ish expensive bra at a time and then wearing it to death. And let me overshare that death had most definitely come. But instead of going to Nordstrom like I usually do, I took a JCPenney gift card I’ve been chipping away at, (my aunt and uncle sent it a few years ago) and hit the lingerie department. I worked with the saleswoman to find what I needed, and walked out with two!!!! incredibly comfortable brassieres and only $23 out of pocket. Yes, my life is both glamorous and exciting.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to lately?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 23 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on May 14, 2014 · 21 comments


Today I am . . . 

  • Appreciative that my friend Sasha was willing to switch shifts this week with me so I could get my older son to his A.P. tests.
  • Excited that the kiwi vines that my friend Suzanne gave me are starting to grow.
  • Realizing that next week’s planned garage sale is going to have to be this week’s garage sale.
  • Already giddy at the prospect of the combined delights of getting rid of stuff and making money.
  • Getting annoyed with how long my hair is, but happy that my sister Sara has offered to trim it for me.
  • Planning on borrowing my neighbor’s pressure washer to blast the slippery scuz and moss from my brick patio. (BTW, I totally get dibs on “Slippery Scuz” as my next band name!)
  • Happy that the city finally came and cut down the overgrowth on the nearby traffic circle/roundabout. It had become a serious hazard as it was impossible to see if cars or bikes were on the other side. (It took approximately seven phone calls to the city, but persistence finally paid off!)
  • Going to take my trusty rug shampooer over to one of my mother’s guest cottages in an attempt to remove a winter’s worth of muddy dog prints. Hopefully, I’ll get lunch in return.
  • Going to sleep alone, as my husband went to visit his parents for a few days. Kind of excited to be able to read in bed for as long as I want.
  • Searching for my cell phone, which somehow got lost in the house as soon as I came home from work yesterday. The battery is dead, so this might take awhile.
  • Noticing that my neighborhood clean-up day is this Saturday, and wondering if we have any hard to get rid of items to bring over.
  • Starting to mull over ideas for my two family members who turn 16 and 49 this week.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 21 comments }


I receive a lot of e-mail from readers, sometimes with questions which are pretty straightforward and easily answered, but occasionally the questions are broad enough that it makes more sense to open them up to The Non-Consumer Advocate community.

I received this e-mail from Bill the other day which posed the following question:

“I was wanting to find more ways to live like your website says. Me and my family have been for some time now. My wife who’s expecting our 2nd child cares for her mom and our daughter. I work outside the home. We do okay on my salary. We buy things when we need them. We make it a point to pay for them with cash. We have little debt and own our house. We also eat out sparingly and I can food.  I make our laundry soap and my own bath soap. Holidays aren’t important to us we got each other that’s what counts.  I’ve taken a look at dumpster diving but decided to buy as needed and not waste. 

We’ve only been doing this about 2 years what beside this could we add? “

What advice do you have for Bill, or really for anyone who’s looking to expand their frugal living ways?

Thank you in advance for what I know will be some great advice!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 47 comments }

Notes From a Screen-Free Week

by Katy on May 11, 2014 · 35 comments


Today marked the official end of Screen Free Week, and I am both sad and relieved to have it over with. And in the theme of multiple sentiments, I both did kind of poorly and pretty damned well. Officially, I was the only family member participating in screen-free week, as my teenage sons and pushing-50 husband have bowed out of what they call my “blog stunts.” However, there is truth that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” so they were part of the experiment whether they liked it or not.

Heh, heh, heh . . .

I was able to get my almost-16-year-old son to spend most evenings walking the neighborhood, playing cards, thrifting, shooting hoops at the park and cooking tasty desserts. This particular kid hardly watches any TV, although he does watch endless soccer games on the internet. I even got him to let me read aloud before bed one night. If asked whether he enjoyed screen-free week, his answer would be a resounding “No!!” But I know that he really enjoyed getting to hang out with me more, especially when there was a weekday chocolate cake to be baked.

Unfortunately, my eighteen-year-old son is very set in his routines, and hardly varied from his evening schedule of goofing around on the internet and watching his DVR’d shows (The Americans, Supernatural, Adventure Time, Glee, Once Upon a Time and Game of Thrones.) I gave him ample invitations to join in on our fun, but he chose to stick with his tried and true.

My husband hardly watches any TV aside from some DVR’d international soccer games, although he has developed quite the Facebook habit. He ignored the challenge.

I took Screen-Free Week more seriously. I’d be embarrassed to admit how much time I waste sitting in front of a screen. Yes, I blog, but it seems like every time I go on the internet for a legitimate reason, I end up succumbing to click-bait and a hour (or more) has suddenly been sucked from my day.

I call it crap-look-what-time-it-is-syndrome. (C.L.W.T.I.I.S?)

Day one definitely felt twitchy. Sure, I may have looked like I was serenely laying on the couch with a library book, but inside I was wondering what was happening on Facebook and had lots of ideas for blog posts that would have required hours in front of the computer. I was tempted to get up and do some deep cleaning, but I really didn’t want the week to be devolve into me acting the role of scullery maid/housekeeper. Not my goal.

I did work three days during the week, which means being away from home until almost 8 P.M. My usual routine is to plop down in front of the TV and complain about how much my feet hurt, but instead I read books, took baths, hung out with the kids and avoided eating cake. (I’m trying to make healthier food choices.)

How much did I read? I read three freaking books, while also listening to almost an entire audio book:

  1. Buying In: The Secret Dialog Between What We Buy and Who We Are, by Rob Walker.
  2. The Partner Track, by Helen Wan.
  3. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, by Julie Powell.
  4. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

Also, I arranged three social get togethers during my days off, and generally felt like the day had at least 2-3 extra hours tacked on to each day. I even spent one evening cleaning one of my mother’s guest cottages. Yes, I checked e-mail as well as did computer charting and education at work, but that was simply unavoidable. My goal was to stop all mindless screen-based entertainment, not go off-grid.

However, we always do a Family Movie Night on Fridays, which I felt was valued enough to keep. But rationalizations are a slippery slope, and I went ahead and brought home a Redbox DVD of Captain Phillips for Saturday night, as I had a code for a free rental that I didn’t want to waste. And by Sunday night, I was unable to resist watching my beloved Mad Men and Call The Midwife. And since I’d already broken the rules, what’s the harm in taking my Facebook Scrabble turns and looking at everyone’s Mother’s Day pictures?

Sigh . . .

But just because I wasn’t able to be perfect with my Screen-Free Week doesn’t mean it was a wasted effort. It wasn’t a contest with winners and blue ribbons, and I definitely feel that I can carry lessons learned into regular weeks.

Screen-Free lessons such as:

  • My younger son still likes to do activities with his mom, even when I have to be the one to suggest the activities.
  • I have more energy when I do stuff rather than sit still and goof around on the internet.
  • I can read an entire book in a 24 hour period, even when working a few days in a row.
  • An eighteen-year-old young man is not interested in my challenge based shenanigans.

Will the coming week be different from the one two weeks previous? Will I get sucked into Buzzfeed click bait and Facebook drama? I sure hope the answer is a resounding “No!” It was very freeing to not feel like there was stuff on the computer I needed to be keeping up with.

I felt free.

Did you participate in Screen-Free Week or even just try to decrease the amount of time you spend in front of life’s various screens? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 35 comments }


May 5-11th is Screen-Free Week, so I will not be blogging. Turn off your computer and try one of these ideas.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Screen Free Week

 

Monday, May 5th starts Screen Free Week, which means that thousands of people will turn off their TV’s, video games, hand held devices and computers. Yes, computers have become necessary tools, but they’re also a major distraction that suck up hours upon hours of our daily lives. So reset your screen addiction and dust off your creative thinking skills!

Here are 100 ideas to get you going!

  1. Call a friend you haven’t talked to for awhile.
  2. Read a guilty pleasure novel.
  3. Tidy up your garden and then share extra perennials with your neighbors.
  4. Start gathering up extra stuff for a garage sale or thrift store run.
  5. Write a letter to an elderly family member.
  6. Go to sleep earlier.
  7. Invite a friend over for an afternoon of chatting and snacks.
  8. Assemble extra meals for your freezer.
  9. Go for a bike ride.
  10. Start a journal.
  11. Put on your favorite music from high school and belt. Out. Those. Tunes!
  12. Finish up your craft projects.
  13. Choose one room in your house to clean, declutter and redecorate using stuff you already own.
  14. Plant some edible seeds. Don’t have a garden? Many veggies such as lettuce and radishes grow well in pots.
  15. Go see some live entertainment. Local community theater is usually affordable enough to be a treat but not a wallet buster.
  16. Pick up an instrument and practice, practice, practice.
  17. Bake a delicious treat, and then share the bounty with your neighbors.
  18. Go outside with your kids and kick a soccer ball or shoot hoops.
  19. Send an unexpected gift to a child.
  20. Pull out your mending pile and bring your wardrobe back to life.
  21. Put your best sheets on your bed and then take a nap.
  22. Write down your goals for the summer.
  23. Offer to babysit for a friend, and then plan some fun screen-free activities for the evening.
  24. Set up a still life and draw it, even if you’re normally not an artistic person.
  25. Drive your car to the fanciest neighborhood in town and go for a walk among the mansions.
  26. Bring a notebook to a coffee shop and do nothing but doodle to see where your mind goes.
  27. Bake bread and then relax into the smell.
  28. Pull out your board games and play into the night.
  29. Have your neighbors over for an informal potluck.
  30. Take all your blankets and pillows and build a kick-ass fort with your kids. Eat dinner in there.
  31. Set up a lemonade stand.
  32. Lay a blanket out in your backyard and stargaze.
  33. Pull out your piles of paper to organize, shred and file.
  34. Take a long hot bath while listening to your favorite music.
  35. Go to the library and ask about free activities for adults.
  36. Pet your dog/cat/guinea pig/unicorn/ferret.
  37. Take advantage of any sunny days to wash your bedding and hang them on the clothesline.
  38. Take an old friend out for coffee/wine/dessert.
  39. Read aloud to your kids, even if they think they’re too old for it.
  40. Go to your favorite thrift shop and photograph the weirdest stuff you can find.
  41. Put a fresh coat of paint on a tired old piece of furniture.
  42. Use your gym membership.
  43. Recreate your favorite restaurant meal at home.
  44. Visit a museum in your own town.
  45. Take another nap.
  46. Find all the gift cards you’ve received through the years and treat yo self.
  47. Prepare a meal to bring to the parents of young children. Trust me, they need it.
  48. Pull out your comic books and catch up with Archie, Spiderman and Buffy.
  49. Open your windows and air out your house.
  50. Drive to the country and stop at all farm stands.
  51. Make your own postcards and mail them to far flung friends.
  52. Read an autobiography.
  53. Get a book of craft projects from the library and attempt creating something.
  54. Make a flower bouquet from your own garden, even if it’s mostly greenery.
  55. Hula hoop/jump rope/play hopscotch.
  56. Go for a hike.
  57. Wash all your sneakers and shine all your shoes.
  58. Trade clothes with a same size friend.
  59. Visit with an older family member and learn what they did instead of watching TV.
  60. Go on a picnic.
  61. Call a friend who’s going through hard times to let her know that you’re thinking of her.
  62. Treat yourself as you would a guest and prepare yourself a sumptuous feast.
  63. Go window shopping in your favorite district, but leave your money and credit cards at home.
  64. Finish a home improvement project.
  65. Volunteer at a pet shelter/school/food pantry.
  66. Go swimming with a friend.
  67. Go to your local beauty school and treat yourself to a new haircut.
  68. Declutter and reorganize your closet in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.
  69. Buy yourself something completely indulgent from a bakery.
  70. Go find a local body of water. A river, pond or ocean will restore your spirits.
  71. Light a fire in the fireplace and pour a glass of wine.
  72. Take another nap.
  73. Write a short story.
  74. Go to your nearest track and do some power walking.
  75. Surprise your family with a fancy dessert on a weeknight.
  76. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
  77. Go to an author reading at your favorite book store.
  78. Bust out that deck of cards for an hour or two of gun rummy, poker, solitaire or go fish.
  79. Do an anonymous good deed for a stranger.
  80. Find some live music to enjoy.
  81. Sit at an outdoor cafe and people watch.
  82. Offer to help a friend for a couple of hours with whatever she needs.
  83. Plan a day trip and explore your own state.
  84. Dump out one junk drawer and get it clean and organized.
  85. Borrow a friend’s dog and take it for a nice long walk.
  86. Dedicate one day to all your boring errands to get them over with.
  87. Trade magazines with a friend, and then bring the whole stack into bed.
  88. Spread a sheet on your living room floor and dump out all of your Legos and start creating.
  89. Challenge your kids to create their own board games, and then be willing to play the games.
  90. Plan a date night with your sweetie.
  91. Take a nature walk in your own neighborhood and take close up photos of the plants and flowers.
  92. Stare into space and let your mind wander.
  93. Read the actual newsprint version of your local newspaper.
  94. Write a letter of appreciation to your mother as a mother’s day gift.
  95. Sign up for a one day class in an area of interest.
  96. Sleep late on your days off from work.
  97. Go to a comedy club and laugh your ass off.
  98. Pore through your cookbooks and find new recipes to try.
  99. Do things that would normally be outside of your routine.
  100. Take another nap.

The average American spends 25 hours per day in front of a screen. Can you set one week aside to recharge your creative juices?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 14 comments }

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